Intro: The Vulnerability Series
*Originally published March 25, 2019*
I’m very excited to get into this series surrounding vulnerability. It’s an interesting concept, one with which I’m trying to get better in my personal life all the time. But it’s also a very vast and broad subject that I don’t think I can fit all into one entry. In this series, I want to explore what vulnerability is, why it is important, and how we can all constantly practice it effectively. For now, I just want to get a brief outline of what we can expect from this series:
What is Vulnerability?
It is very easy for us to hear the word ‘vulnerable’ and immediately think of it as negative. Even its definition contains some negative language: “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded…open to attack or damage”. It’s crucial to understand that while the concept of vulnerability sounds negative and frightening, it’s an absolutely necessary tool for us all to function in healthy relationships. Research Professor Brene Brown describes vulnerability as “the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable”. I’ll be referencing a lot of her findings/teachings for this topic as a whole.
Vulnerability is not a weakness. There are a lot of negative connotations to the concept of being ‘vulnerable’. A lot of times when we think of vulnerability, we think of someone who is ‘too emotional’ or someone who is deemed incapable of masking their emotions. We might view this person to be fragile-minded and an easy target for manipulation or scam. However, this is only one narrow way to perceive the concept of vulnerability. In actuality, we all need it because it is what makes us able to connect as human beings.
How Can I Be Vulnerable?
While there are people who struggle to let themselves be vulnerable, there are also others who should really dial it back. It is important to note that vulnerability is not just selective, it should also be mutual. Being vulnerable with someone does not necessarily mean boundaries no longer exist. You also have to step back and take into account whether or not it’s appropriate for you to be vulnerable with this particular person. It’s something that I will expand upon later, but I do want to put this out there:
Vulnerability is not oversharing, purging, or creating a social media dump.
I’m sure we’ve all encountered someone like this. Without your consent, they just dump a lot of deeply personal information on you that was just simply none of your business. You don’t know how to help this person, and quite frankly you’re not even sure if this person truly wants your help. By purging all of this to unsuspecting people, we end up embodying all of the negative connotations associated with being vulnerable. No one truly wants to be depicted as a basket case, but that is some real basket case behavior.
Don’t Walk Alone
Our society romanticizes the idea of “going at it alone”; everyone loves the idea of being “self-made” and doing everything “on my own”. The reality? No one is truly self-made. At some point in our lives, someone has served as a catalyst to where we are now. It doesn’t make us weak to accept help, to be open to counsel, or simply listen to a helpful person’s insight. Fear is a major stumbling block when it comes to letting ourselves be vulnerable, but Pride comes in as a close second.
Men and Vulnerability
Our society has created contradictory expectations when it comes to men and their vulnerability, especially within romantic relationships. A lot of these men have grown up not being taught or encouraged to learn how to process their hard emotions. From that, a large generation of men who genuinely don’t know how to process emotion in a healthy manner is produced. But, as the other topics mentioned, I will be delving into this in greater detail in a later post.